Rupert was having an unusual dream, again.
He was in the old flat back in London in his youth and he was talking to a girl that claimed…claimed to be from the future. Yes, that's what it was. Who on Earth ever claimed to be from the future in his past? He couldn't think of anyone but the scene was very clear on that point. He dismissed Faith's image outright until the conversation unfolded a bit more. She sounded very much like the Faith he knew, her words were things he knew she'd say.
Then she mentioned something he didn't know. He's speculated it, of course, but he hadn't known she lived with her previous Watcher or that she'd loved him like family. He simply didn't have the knowledge of the event or the intimate details of how David died. He listened to her tale with rapt fascination, learning part of the inner workings of a very complicated young woman.
He was beginning to suspect this was not a dream. He was also beginning to think that this was not a daily focus being brought into subconscious dreaming. These didn't feel like dreams. They felt like memories, hazy and tangible all at once. A few things started clicking in place and he woke in a cold sweat. His head ached a little but he also had a whopper of a puzzle peace fall into place.
"She's in the past. Of course! The magic pulled Dee from, when was it? 1978? It must have taken Faith in exchange and threw her into the past in Deirdre's place. She probably only sought me out because I'm the person she knows in London and she wouldn't trust the Council."
He took a deep breath, pulling in air and letting out in a slow and steady woosh. This was not good. The results of this could be disastrous to his younger self and the time line. They needed to get her back into the present and Dee back into the past as soon as possible. But, he consoled himself, at least she wasn't stuck in the ether somewhere or lost in some other way from this mix up. He could deliver some happy news to the worried Scoobies. As for Willow…that was a dilemma stable for now. Her body needed rest. It would come out of this coma in time.
The Watcher moved from his bed where Dee commanded him and moved back into the living room picking up every book her had that even remotely dealt with time travel, time glitches, and the butterfly effect. If there was a way to prevent any trouble he wanted to find it. If there was a way to pick Faith up and bring her home easily he wanted to find it. Buffy was asleep on the couch and murmured as he turned on the lamp, used to this. She simply turned over in her sleep and brought the blanket more firmly around herself.
"Bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger." He grumbled, scanning over a page but really turning over the problem at hand.
"That's not a good word."
The man started as Xander came into the room looking rumpled and a bit worse for the wear. He took a seat opposite Giles and picked up a book from the table. Checking the title the boy lifted an eyebrow.
"Something you want to share with the rest of the class?"
"I've figure out where Faith is, I think. I can't be sure yet but the signs and the logic follows."
"I'm not following. Point me in the right direction. Where is Faith?"
Giles looked up, jade eyes observing the guilt on the other's face even if his tone was the usual sarcasm he employed.
"I suspect Faith is in the past. Specifically she's in the place and time Deirdre is supposed to be in."
"Yes. 1978 to be exact."
"Well, great. Just yank her back and call it a day."
"It's not that simple, Xander. There are factors, risks, both to Faith and to Deirdre. I can't just, as you so delicately put it, yank her back. She's made contact with me in the past and seems to be filling the gap created by Dee's disappearance. But this is a good thing. As she makes contact I seem to be remembering it through dreams. In this way we can track her for when we have a solid idea of how to fix this."
"And how long will that be?"
"I don't know yet. I'm not a bloody magician. I can't pull answers out of a hat."
The other was sufficiently chastised and shook his head. "What are the risks?"
"She could alter the past, Xander. She could change things by being there, seeing me. And if I change them back Dee could change things by knowing the future and even if we manage to avoid this quantum mechanical problem there's still the logistics of a spell powerful enough to send both women back to their respective times and simple enough that I can perform it on my own."
"Indeed." The others dry tone did little to disguise his frustration and little of it was actually aimed at Xander himself.
"How can I help?"
"I'm not sure yet. I need you to make a list of the pages where I can find simple spells that transcend time and space, recall lost objects and such. Perhaps I can utilize this same desire to fuel the larger spell to retrieve Faith."
The boy set to work and both men worked through the night until the sun began turning the sky from dark blue to orange and pink. Xander was passed out on the table as the sun rose properly, head cradled in the crook of his arm. Giles was not much better, bleary eyed and struggling to stay away in his own chair, head dipping only to jerk back up again suddenly. He was trying to do this on remarkably little sleep. Dee was right, he was not going to do well unless he was rested.
He jumped, his leg kicking out to meet the solid wood of the table. Pain flared through his body and he swore, looking to the person that woke him from dozing, his Slayer. Chagrined and rubbing his shin ruefully he sighed.
"How long have I been asleep?"
"I don't think you really were. Maybe ten minutes. How long have you been out here working?"
"I don't know. What time is it?"
"About nine hours then, I suppose."
"Go to sleep."
"I can't. I know where Faith is. I need to bring her back."
He quickly outlined his thoughts and the findings of the night before wishing there was some way to verify this more than simply dreaming things that had not existed and working on theory alone. To her credit Buffy took it in stride, nodding along with his theory. It was as good as any other and it was the only thing they had to work on. It would have to do.
He was asleep again not long after Buffy sat down to help. His head was tilted at an angle that would scream pain when he woke but the Slayer didn't dare wake him for fear that this brief nap was the only sleep he'd allow himself for a long time. She knew his habits and knew that when he was hot on the heels of a theory he'd stop at nothing. This seemed especially dire since there was time involved and the manipulation and possible corruption of timelines.
Just another day in the life of the Slayer.